We all have personal habits that may seem bizarre to those who do not know us (and perhaps even to those who do know us), but this does not exclude the men who have held the highest office in the land: US presidents.
With Presidents Day coming up on Monday, February 18th, here is a short list of interesting habits of five US presidents -- some with historic consequences.
5) Reagan and Jelly Bellies
Soon after Ronald Reagan became Governor of California in 1967, he began eating jelly beans made by Herman Goelitz Candy Company to help him give up a pipe-smoking habit.
Three-and-a-half tons of Jelly Bellies were shipped to the White House for the 1981 Inaugural festivities.
Blueberry (which remains a favorite) was actually created for President Reagan’s inauguration so that there would be red, white and blue jelly beans at the celebration.
Reagan was known to keep a jar of his favorite treats on his desk at all times.
Side note: President Reagan’s favorite Jelly Belly flavor was licorice. Now, that is just bizarre.
4) Lincoln and séances
Though many have said that Lincoln had a certain fascination with the supernatural / spirit world, this bizarre habit may have been a capitulation to First Lady, Mary Todd Lincoln’s fixation on the death of their son, Willie in 1862.
Mrs. Lincoln was apparently obsessed with communicating with her dead son.
Historians believe that Lincoln attended the séances in an attempt to understand his wife’s mental state. Others have written that Lincoln received warnings of pending doom that alluded to his assassination.
3) William Taft up on the roof
President William Taft often slept on the roof of the White House on a cot. This sounds bizarre at first, but it was actually a practical move.
What is more commonly known as Solarium, or Sun Room, was added to the White House in the early 20th century in the form of a "Sleeping Porch," so Taft's first family would have a cool place to sleep on hot nights.
It was renovated in 1927 when the third floor was expanded and deemed the "Sky Parlor."
In 1952 it was revamped again under Truman and now includes a kitchenette.
2) Benjamin Harrison’s shocking fear of electricity
23rd President, Benjamin Harrison was the first President to have electricity in the White House. He and his wife were so scared of getting an electric shock that they didn't turn on the lights for weeks.
Harrison and his family often went to bed and left all the new electric lights burning because they were afraid to touch the switches. He used to have White House staff turn them on and off.
1) John Quincy Adams: Skinny dipping in the Potomac
Before pools and Jacuzzis, having a river in your backyard was as good as it got. The 6th President of the United States enjoyed wading through the Potomac River nude almost daily at 5:00 a.m.
Interesting side note: One morning while skinny dipping, Adams was coerced into becoming the first president to grant an interview to a female reporter. Ann Royall knew of the president’s morning routine, and one morning when Adams was skinny dipping, Royall sat on his clothes and refused to leave until granted an interview. As a result of her tenacity, she became the first female reporter to interview a President of the United States (naked or otherwise).
Here's an interesting and bizarre habit for a sitting US president: Excess personal spending for pleasure at the tax-payers' expense while millions of US residents suffer due to a depressed economy.
A breakdown by the Hawaii Reporter shows his trips in 2009, 2010, and 2011 cost about $4 million, much of it for Air Force One. But that doesn’t include costs such as the separate flights Michelle Obama twice took.
And these figures only take into account the vacations to Hawaii through 2011.